Jan 11, 2023
Former Uvalde CISD Police Chief Explains Decisions at Robb Elementary in Newly Released Video Transcript
Newly obtained video shows Pete Arredondo’s account of the shooting at Robb Elementary in his own words. Read the transcript here.
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Pete Arredondo (00:01):
… and know there was probably victims in there, and with the shots I heard, I know there’s probably somebody who’s going to be deceased.
Shimon Prokupecz (00:07):
Former Uvalde School Police Chief Pete Arredondo heard for the first time-
Pete Arredondo (00:13):
[inaudible 00:00:12]. Come on, come on.
Shimon Prokupecz (00:13):
… the day after the May 24th shooting, attempting to explain his actions. In new video obtained by CNN at Arredondo telling investigators he assumed students in the room with the shooter were already dead, so he chose to clear children from surrounding classrooms.
Pete Arredondo (00:29):
There’s nobody in there? Nothing here.
Shimon Prokupecz (00:32):
We now know he was wrong. At least three victims were pulled out of the room alive, who later died from their injuries.
Pete Arredondo (00:39):
My first thought is that we need to vacate. We have him contained, and I know this is horrible. I know is what our training tells us to do, but we haven’t contained. There’s probably going to be some deceased in there, but we don’t need any more from out here. So I called out and I said, “Get these kids out.” Whatever I told them, bust those windows, get them out.
Shimon Prokupecz (00:56):
Stunning admissions while being questioned by the FBI and Texas Rangers.
Pete Arredondo (01:02):
Throughout this deal, I was trying to make communication with him.
Speaker 3 (01:06):
He’s communicating. Can you hear me sir?
Shimon Prokupecz (01:10):
Arredondo explains he kept trying to talk to the shooter and for the first time we learned that he heard the gunman, alone in a room full of children reloading his weapon and still he took no action that’s stop the gunman.
Pete Arredondo (01:24):
But I’m certain I heard him reload. I heard something over with a pin, you obviously, we all know what that sounds like or not with a pin. I’m sorry, with a clip. I’m assuming he reloaded, but I know he did something with it. I did hear that at one time. I don’t know if there was a second. He never responded at all.
Speaker 3 (01:43):
I’m going to go around that way or which way?
Shimon Prokupecz (01:45):
Now considered one of the worst law enforcement failures in recent memory, Arredondo knew that criticism would come.
Pete Arredondo (01:52):
We’re going to get scrutinized, I’m expecting that. We’re going to get scrutinized why we didn’t go in there.
Shimon Prokupecz (01:57):
Days later, Arredondo would be labeled the incident commander by the Texas State Police. They say he was the officer in charge and the man to blame for the deadly delay.
Speaker 4 (02:07):
Who was the incident commander, sir?
Speaker 5 (02:09):
The chief of police of the consolidated independent school district is the incident commander. It’s his school. He’s the chief of police. Okay?
Shimon Prokupecz (02:18):
Arredondo who presided over a six-person police force before he was terminated in August declined to comment for this story. Through his lawyer, he has previously denied that he was ever in charge and said he never issued any orders. A CNN analysis of never before made public body camera footage and newly obtained phone calls reveal Arredondo repeatedly directed the officers around him not to enter the room with the gunman. This is at 11:40 AM just seven minutes after the shooting began.
Pete Arredondo (02:48):
Hey, it’s Arredondo. This is an emergency right now. I’m inside the building. I’ve been inside the building with this man. He has an AR-15. He shot a whole bunch of times. He’s in one room. I need a lot of fire power, so I need this building surrounded. I need it surrounded with as many AR-15s as possible.
Shimon Prokupecz (03:09):
As more officers or body cameras responded to this scene, we can hear Arredondo start to talk to the shooter. Sir,
Pete Arredondo (03:15):
Sir, this is Arredondo with the school district police, can you please put your firearm down? We don’t want anyone else hurt, sir.
Shimon Prokupecz (03:23):
Arredondo can be seen trying to open the door to an adjacent classroom while giving commands to other officers.
Pete Arredondo (03:30):
We’re going to tear out before we do any breaching, we’re going to clear out. As soon as they clear room, I’m going to verify what’s been vacated, guys, before we do any kind of breaching. Time is on our side right now. I know we probably have kids in there, but we’ve got to save the lives of the other ones.
Shimon Prokupecz (03:45):
Time was not on his side and it reflects a mindset that goes directly against active shooter training. The policy emphasizes speed for any officer to go immediately towards the sound of gunfire and stop the shooter. Arredondo last completed the training in December 2021, 5 months before the Uvalde massacre.
Child is advising she is in a room full of victims.
Shimon Prokupecz (04:11):
At about 12:12 PM a crucial transmission from the Uvalde dispatcher comes over the radios in the hallway, informing the officers that a child in the room with the gunman called 911 and says she’s surrounded by victims. The dispatch blares within earshot of Arredondo.
He doesn’t seem to hear it because he’s talking, repeating instructions for officers not to enter.
Pete Arredondo (04:35):
Hey guys, hold on. We’re going to clear the building first and then we’ll tactical, but we’re going to empty these classrooms first.
Constable Zamora (04:41):
All these are empty, Pete.
Pete Arredondo (04:43):
He’s verifying right now.
Shimon Prokupecz (04:44):
The officers actually turn down their radios so they can hear Arredondo give the order.
DPS Trooper Chad Skidmore (04:50):
Guys, can you turn the radios down, please?
Shimon Prokupecz (04:52):
It seems clear to the men on this side of the hallway, Arredondo is in charge.
Constable Zamora (04:56):
No entry until the chief of police gives you permission there.
Shimon Prokupecz (05:00):
And when a nearby officer suggests that a border patrol agent looks like they are about to go in-
Constable Zamora (05:05):
Get ready for friendlies.
Pete Arredondo (05:07):
Tell them to wait.
Constable Zamora (05:08):
Shimon Prokupecz (05:11):
Arredondo said he assumed border patrol agents at the other end of the hallway would be the ones to make the breach since they had rifles and he and his men only had pistols.
Pete Arredondo (05:20):
That’s why I know those are BP and I know those are probably BORTAC. Smart thing for us to do, obviously with a handgun, is we can let these guys make entry when it’s that time.
Shimon Prokupecz (05:32):
But it wasn’t just handguns. As body camera footage clearly shows, there were plenty of heavily armed officers on scene.
Speaker 3 (05:39):
Hey, hold and settle.
Shimon Prokupecz (05:40):
Some in the very first moments after the shooting began. Arredondo for the first time also explaining why he thought the door was locked, admitting he never tried to open it.
Pete Arredondo (05:51):
I have a picture in my mind that I saw that hammer in there and usually when that’s there, that’s locked. Man, 90% of the time.
Shimon Prokupecz (06:04):
We now know investigators believe it was unlocked and there was no need to wait for a key. At the end of the interview, Arredondo says that rather than breaching the door, he even considered trying to shoot through the walls to kill the gunman.
Pete Arredondo (06:19):
The thought crossed my mind to start shooting through that wall, which would have been stupid, but you start thinking there’s already somebody deceased in there, you want to start, but obviously we don’t ever train to shoot through walls. It’s not something that… It’s not probably the smartest idea, but you always question yourself.
Shimon Prokupecz (06:39):
Shimon Prokupecz, CNN, Uvalde, Texas.